USHL hockey: Force down Tri-City in OT to win semifinals series

Charlie Russell scored two goals, including a short-handed overtime game-winner, as Fargo advanced to the USHL Western Conference final by completing a sweep of the Storm on Saturday.

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FARGO – After earning a 3-2 win over Tri-City on Friday, the Fargo Force earned another one Saturday night, this time in overtime. With the win, the Force swept the USHL best-of-three series Western Conference semifinals and move on to the conference finals.

After finishing the regular season 40-14-4-4 and winning the Anderson Cup, the Force earned the top spot in the Western Conference and home ice. Tri-City — which swept Sioux City in the opening round earlier this week — boasted one of the USHL's top groups of forwards. And that offense got a quick start Saturday.

Cameron O’Neill gave Tri-City a 1-0 lead 6:58 into the contest, putting a Jacob Jeannette feed past Fargo goaltender Matej Marinov. However, that was the only shot that found its way past Marinov over the opening 57 minutes.

Fargo's Charlie Russell tied the game midway through the second period while Verner Miettinen gave Fargo its first lead of the night 1:39 into the third. Miettinen, who also scored in Friday’s win, had 17 goals and 34 points in the regular season.

The SCSU commit fired home a power-play goal from the top of the right circle and the Force looked to be on their way to a 2-1 series-clinching win – until Alex Bump’s game-tying goal in the final minutes.


Bump, a Philadelphia Flyers draft pick and Prior Lake, Minn. native, put home the rebound of a Jake Richard shot off the faceoff, quieting the home crowd and sending the game to overtime.

An overtime session that lasted just 1:38 as Russell netted his second of the night, this time short-handed.

Fargo will host games one and two of the best-of-five Western Conference Finals. Dates, times and the opponent are yet to be determined as Lincoln and Waterloo will play a winner-take-all game three on Sunday, April 30, in Waterloo.

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